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Full text of "What Tradition Tells Us of the Blessed Virgin Mary No. II"

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1852.] 



THE CATHOLIC LAYMAN. 



135 



aforetime were written for our learning, that we, 
through patience and comfort of ttie Scripture, might 
hare hope," &c., 2 Tim. iii. 14 — "Continue in the things 
which thou has learned, and hast been assured of, 
knowing of whom thou hast learned them ; and that 
from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, 
which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through 
faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is 
given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doc- 
trine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in 
righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, 
throughly furnished unto all good works." 

We trust that the mass of Scriptural evidence to 
which we have a'oove referred may lead our readers, whe- 
ther Roman Catholics or Protestants, to the saving con- 
viction, that the Holy Soryptures are intended, by that 
God under whose inspiration they were written, and by 
whose providence they have been preserved, to contain 
and to present to man that revelation of his will the 
knowledge of which must lead to their salvation and to 
his glory ; and that it was intended that the instruction 
of hia Church and people should be carried on through 
the means of the Bible ; and we hope that some, at least, 
may be led by it to value " the book" more than they 
have ever done — to refer to it as conclusive authority on 
all points of religion — and, like the noble Bereans of old, 
" Search the Scriptures daily whether these things 
are so." 



THE 



WHAT TRADITION TELLS US OF 
BLESSED VIRGIN MARY_No. II. 

JUSTIN MARTYR, TATIAN, ATIIENAUORAS, THEOVHILUS, 
IRENf US. 

In our September number we laid before our readers all 
the passages we could find in the New Testament where the 
name of the Blessed Virgin is mentioned ; and as noneof 
our Roman Catholic correspondents have been able to 
point out that we have omitted any, we may take for 
granted thatourlist wascomplete. We found then that 
the whole number of those passages was very much less 
than we should have expected ; that several of them are 
exactly such as the writers would have inserted, 
if it had been their express object to prevent future ages 
from carrying their veneration of the mother of our 
.Lord to excess ; and that nowhere in the New Testament 
does there occur an instance of the sacred writers either 
addressing prayers to the Blessed Virgin themselves, or 
of their exhorting their converts to implore her interces- 
sion. And we called your attention to the fact that her 
name is not once mentioned in any of the twenty-one apos- 
tolic epistles. We do not know in the least how this fact is 
to be accounted for, if we are to suppose that the sacred 
writers regarded the Blessed Virgin (as Romish autho- 
rities do now) as "their only confidence," '-the entire 
ground of their hope." Certain it is that Roman Catholic 
bishops nowadays don't think it right to write long letters 
to their flocks without bringing in the Virgins name. 
(Since our last remarks were published, for example, 
a pastoral was issued to the Roman Catholics of 
Dublin, half of which was taken up with her praises.) 
We gave insertion to a letter in which a correspondent 
furnished us with explanations, given by Roman Catholic 
divines, of the silence of the sacred writers concerning 
her; but we leave it to our readers to say whether there 
was one satisfactory explanation among the whole of 
them. 

We went on then, in the October number, to examine 
what tradition tells of the Blessed Virgin. We went 
through all the genuine remains of what are called the 
Apostolic Fathers, and we found that the earliest unin- 
spired Christian writers said just as little (or less) about 
her than the apostles and evangelists themselves. Her 
name is certainly not found incessantly on their lips. 

We are now come to the middle of the second cen- 
tury — more than one hundred years after the death of 
our Lord. We pointed out to you, in our last article, 
that a tradition is but of little value if it cannot be 
traced nearer than a hundred years to the source whence 
it claims to be derived. For example, Dean Swift is not 
dead much more than a hundred years, and was one of 
the most popular men in Dublin in his day ; and yet a 
very moderately-sized sheet of paper would contain all 
the traditions that could be collected in Dublin now 
about the dean ; and if any one of these traditions were 
to ascribe to the dean opinions inconsistent with what 
we know of him through his published writings, no 
man of sense would attach the least credit to it. 

However, though we acknowledge that the value of 
tradition becomes less and less the farther we go from 
the fountain head, we believe that it will be very useful 
to continue our examination of what the early Chris- 
tians wrote concerning the Blessed Virgin ; and, ac- 
cordingly, we purpose to continue the subject in this 
and in some future articles: for we shall be enabled to 
judge, if the worship of the Blessed Virgin was not 
handed down by tradition, how it did take its origin ; 
and we shall find reason to believe that Mr. Newman 
is quite right in maintaining that the Roman Catholic 
doctrine was not handed down, in its present form, by 
tradition, but that it was developed, in the course of 
time, by Christian writers. The hint dropped by one 
was taken up and expanded by another what was in 



one man's mouth a mere rhetorical flourish, became in 
another's a dry statement of facts — until, at last, doc- 
trines assumed a form which would astonish no one 
more than some of the very writers whose sayings are 
cited in support of them. 

We shall give our readers the means of judging whe- 
ther this be not so with regard to the doctrine of the 
worship of the Virgin. And while we intend, in the 
course of these articles, to lay before our Roman Catholic 
readers all the passages from the Fathers which the 
most eminent divines of their church have ever urged 
in defence of this practice, it will be satisfactory to them 
to know, that if the result of the examination be to con- 
vince them that this practice cannot be traced to any 
apostolic tradition, still they will not have contradicted 
anything which their church has decided. The first 
work published by Mr. Newman, on joining the Roman 
Catholic communion, in effect, gives up tradition as a 
ground for Romish doctrine, and claims for the church 
the power of making discoveries in the Christian re- 
ligion, and of developing doctrines which the Chris- 
tians of the apostles' days knew nothing about. And 
since these views of Mr. Newman's have never been 
condemned by Roman Catholic authorities, but he is, 
on the contrary, in high favour with the dignitaries 
of his new church, our readers are safe in concluding 
that there will be nothing heretical in their believing 
that the worship of the Blessed Virgin was unknown to 
the apostles and their converts, however it may have 
been developed since, some way or other. 

The first author whose writings we shall examine in 
his article U Justin Martyr. He was born in Palestine, 
of heatheii parents — became well informed in the Gre- 
cian philosophy — was converted to Christianity when of 
mature age, and then wrote in its defence — was one of 
the most learned of the very early Christian writers, and 
eventually suffered martyrdom about the year, A.D., 
105. The writings of Justin, which are still extant, are 
of considerable extent, and contain some important in- 
formation as to the Church of his time. In particular, 
he gives some interesting details as to the public services 
of the Church, and as to the manner in which the sacra- 
ments of baptism and of the eucharist were then cele- 
brated. But in no one of his works is there the slightest 
trace of prayers addressed either to the Blessed Virgin 
or to any other saint, whether for direct assistance or 
for intercession. 

As it is part of our plan, however, to furnish you 
not only with all that can be urged from the Fa- 
thers in defence of prayers to the Blessed Virgin, but 
with any passages we can find where she is extolled, and 
her praises dwelt upon by the Fathers, we give the only 
passage of this nature we can find in Justin's writings, 
only remarking, that a Roman Catholic writer of the 
present day would scarcely have said so little in the 
course of '.240 folio pages. Justin, then, in commenting 
on the fact that our Saviour was born of a virgin, was 
led to remark how fit it was that, as it was by means of 
a woman (namely, by Eve's eating the forbidden fruit) 
that sin entered into the world, so likewise the instru- 
mentality of a woman should be employed in the plan 
for our redemption, that so disobedience might be de- 
stroyed in the same manner in which it was introduced 
into the world — 

" For Eve being a virgin, and incorrupt, having 
received the word from the serpent, brought forth 
transgression and death : but Mary the Virgin, hav- 
ing received faith and joy (on the angel Gabriel an- 
nouncing to her the glad tidings, that the Spirit of the 
Lord should come upon her, and the power of the High- 
est overshadow her), answered, Be it unto me accord- 
ing to thy word. And of her was born he of whom we 
have shown that so many Scriptures have spoken : he 
by whom God destroys the serpent, and angels and men 
resembling (the serpent), but works a rescue from death 
for such as repent of evil and believe on him." 

This is the strongest passage in all Justin in praise of 
the Blessed Virgin ; and you will observe, that the notion 
of offering prayers to her is not once suggested by if, 
and that nothing is said of her except what Protestants 
are ready to admit. It is scarcely necessary to remark, 
that in this parallel between Eve and the Virgin Mary, 
Justin merely institutes a comparison suggested by his 
own ingenuity, and that he does not pretend to be com- 
municating any doctrine not contained in Scripture, 
handed down to him by his predecessors. Justin 
merely makes the remarks which his own reason sug- 
gested on the facts contained in Scripture; but he does 
not pretend to be adding any facts of his own to those 
already recorded in the Bible. This passage from Jus- 
tin, although it has no doctrinal importance, is interest- 
ing in an historical point of view, because this compari- 
son which Justin suggested, between Eve and the Virgin 
Mary, was one which greatly pleased some of the suc- 
ceeding Fathers ; and we shall see how some of them 
improved on it. 

The folio volume in which the Benedictine editors 
published the works of Justin Martyr contains besides 
writings in defence of Christianity, composed by Tatian, 
by Athknacoras, and by Theophilus, who all like- 
wise lived in the second century. We shall not weary 
you by going separately through each of them ; but will 
cut the matter short by telling you at once, of all three, 



that there is not a word of the Blessed Virgin in any 
one of them. Not but that there were opportunities, 
when any one whose mind had been in the habit of 
dwelling on the thoughts of the Virgin would not hav« 
been silent about her. For instance, Tatian compares 
the habits of the females celebrated by the Grecian 
poets with those of the Christian virgins. But thete 
ancient Christian writers not only do not (as liomanists 
do now) make out opportunities of speaking of the Vir- 
gin, whatever be the subject in hand, but they are 
silent about her, even when a natural opportunity for 
speaking about her presents itself. 

We shall conclude this article with an examination of 
those parts of the writings of Irf.N£us which bear os 
our subject. This eminent Christian writer was born 
in Asia .Minor, and was one of the most eminent bishops 
of Gaul at the latter part of the second century. Much 
of his writings has been lost; and his principal work 
(against heresies) has only come down to us in a Latin 
translation, merely fragments of the original Greek hav- 
ing been preserved. There has been enough left, how- 
ever, to enable us to pronounce with sufficient certainty 
on the doctrines taught by Irena'us, and to gather this, 
at least, from his total silence on the subject, that no 
prayers were in his time offered by orthodox Christians 
to the Blessed Virgin or to any other of the saints; 
for nothing of the kind is to be found in any of hig 
writings which have reached us. Of passages in his 
works where the Virgin's name occurs, there are only 
two or three remarkable enough to be worth quoting — 

" When Mary was hastening to the admirable miracle 
of the wine, and wishing, before the time, to participate 
in the compendious* draught, the Lord, repelling her 
unseasonable haste, said — Woman, what have 1 to do 
with thee?" — Adversus Hajreses iii. 18. 

It is plain that, in this passage, Irenteus speaks of 
the haste with which our Lord's mother urged him to 
the performance of the miracle of the change of water 
into wine as something censurable, and that he did 
not conceive it necessary to maintain that she was free 
from all tincture of sin or error. 

In the other two passages to which we allude, Irenseus 
takes up the comparison which Justin had instituted, 
between the Virgin Mary and Eve, only adding of his 
own some further speculation as to the happy meeting of 
the two in Paradise. The following are the passages. 
To avoid all cavil we adopt the translation of Messrs. 
Beringtou and Kirk, whose work is the storehouse 
from which modern Romish controversialists draw their 
citations from the Fathers — 

" As Kve having Adam for a husband, but being still a 
virgin, becoming disobedient, became the cause of deatk 
both to herself and to the whole human race ; so also 
Mary, having her predestined husband, but being ne- 
vertheless a virgin, being obedient, became the cause of 
salvation both to herself and to the whole human race. 
And thus the knot of Eve's disobedience was untied 
through Mary's obedience; for what the virgin Eve 
tied through unbelief, the Virgin Mary unloosed through 

faith Adv. Hajreses iii. 33. 

" As she (Eve), through the discourse of a (fallen) 
angel, was seduced, so as to flee from God, having 
transgressed his word : so Mary, through the discourse 
of a (good) angel, was evangelized, so as to bear God, 
being obedient to his word. And if Eve disobeyed 
God, yet Mary was persuaded ta obey God, that the 
Virgin Mary might become the advocate of the virgin 
Eve. And as the human race was bound to death 
through a virgin, it is saved through a virgin, the 
scales being equally balanced — virginal disobedience 
by virginal obedience." — Adv. Haereses v. 19. 

The only correction we have to make in the preceding 
translation is in the word translated advocate, which, 
there is every reason believe, should rather be trans- 
lated consoler or comforter. The original Greek is 
lost, as mentioned above ; but there is little reason to 
doubt that the word employed must have been a deriva- 
tive of vrupnicnXcai, that being the word for which the 
Latin -'advocare" is a constant equivalent. For ex- 
ample, Tertullian (Cont. Marciou iv. 14) translates 
the words "to comfort those that mourn" (Isaiah 
lxi. 3) — " advocare lugentes." And, if this be so, the 
passage would simply refer to the consolation which 
Eve would find in seeing the damage repaired which 
had been caused by her sin, and in meeting with her 
whose seed had bruised the serpent's head. 

But let us waive this point ; let us suppose that "ad- 
vocate" is the exact translation of the word ; and let us 
grant, moreover, that Ireniuus was in possession of au- 
thentic information that the Virgin in heaven pleads 
for Eve, docs it follow that she can hear our prayers, 
addressed to her while we are on earth ? If we had a 
brother in a distant country, and even if we believed 
that he was likely to pray for us, we should have no 
right to pray to him to offer up his supplication on our 
behalf: and we find, in point of fact, that whatever be 
the sense of this rhetorical passage, and whether or not 

* In this obscure expression Irenseus alludes to a former remark 
of his. that the ordinary operations of nature, whereby the water 
which falls from heaven is transmuted by successive changes, first, to 
the sap of the vine, then to the juice of the grape, and so to wine, 
were, to the miracle of the change of water I uto wine, compressed Into 
a compendious form : the same thing being done in a few minutes 
which, in the ordinary course of nature, requites a whole year. 



i36 



THE CATHOLIC LAYMAN. 



[December, 



he thought the Virgin's advocacy likely to benefit Eve, 
Ihere ia no trace of Irenseus, or any of his contempora- 
ries, asking her intercession for himself. 

But it ia moat important of all to observe, that in 
these two passages Irenseus doea not pretend to de- 
lirer a tradition. We can see plainly that the invo- 
cation of the Virgin grew in the church — that it was 
not handed down. We have seen Justin first draw a 
-comparison between the injury cansed the world by the 
Instrumentality of Eve, and the benefits derived through 
that of Mary : we have now seen Irenseus take up the 
•ame comparison, and embellish it with some rhetorical 
remarks of his own. But he does not pretend to be in 
possession of any new fa'cts not contained in the Scrip- 
tures ; and, notwithstanding the exalted tone of a few 
sentences in a large work, he never once alludes to any 
custom among Christians of asking the Virgin's inter- 
cession. 

We shall have to go down to much later writers be- 
fore we shall succeed in discovering any trace of such 
prayers; and when we do at length come to them, we 
Shall find that it is not in tradition that they take their 
Origin. When_.oap writer ventures to speculate on the 
dignity to whtclf V\e Virgin is exalted, and the degree 
Of favour which she probably enjoys, another adds 
something of his own, and conjectures much as 
to the value of her intercession; then another prays 
that God may hear the prayers which lie trusts she is 
offering lor him ; until at length petitions are directly 
addressed to her, requesting her intercession or her as- 
sistance, notwithstanding that there is confessedly no 
command, either of Scripture or of the Church, that we 
should offer such prayers, and though there is no pro- 
mise that God will make such petitions known to her. 

Whatever be the value of these speculations, we hope, 
in these articles, by tracing exactly what each writer 
had learned from his predecessor, to make it appear 
that they originated in the private judgment of persons 
more or less eminent in the Church, and not either 
from Scripture or tradition. 

We cannot, however, take leave of Irenseus without 
noticing the illustration he affords how Roman Catholics 
(while they treat the authority of Fathers as decisive 
when it makes for them) feel no scruple in rejecting 
their statements when viiey uu not approve of i'.iem. 
For want . of any better passage in the writings of the 
early Fathers, Roman Catholics are very fond of put- 
ting forward Irenseus's comparison between the Blessed 
Virgin and Eve, as if it were sufficient to connect with 
the times of the apostles the adoration of the Blessed 
Virgin practised in the fifth century. And, yet, we 
have shown that there is not only no mention in this 
passage of any practice of invoking the Virgin Mary 
in the time of Irenseus, lut that, also, the whole pas- 
sage expresses merely the writer's own views, and not 
any tradition which he had received from his prede- 
cessors. But how Roman Catholic advocates would 
have triumphed if Irenseus had slated, that he had 
heard, from those who had heard the apostles speak, 
that the church ought to offer prayers through the me- 
diation of the Virgin. And, yet, they reject, without 
ceremony, statements which he does put forward on 
this very authority. For example, Irenseus tells us 
that he had received it from those who had heard it 
from the very hearers of the apostles, that our Lotd 
lived on this earth to old age, or, as he explains it, to 
about fifty years of age. One would suppose that this 
was a point in which tradition was not likely to go 
wrong; and, yet, the Benedictine editor, iii:ry pro- 
perly, absolutely refuses belief to this tradition of Ire- 
nseus, and prefers the received opinion, that our Saviour 
suffered about the thirty-fourth year of his age. He 
tells us, that " the reasons which Irenseus gives for his 
opinion are very weak, and that the argumentisnot better 
than the rest, that the saint had received this statement 
from his predecessors ; for that we do npt know who 
those predecessors were, nor whether they might not 
have been mistaken, and that one of them (Papias), 
whom Irenseus names, was a man of but feeble judg- 
ment." 

Again, Irenseus strongly maintains the doctrine of 
the Millenarians, that our Saviour is hereafter to reign 
on earth for 1 ,000 years ; and about twenty pages from 
the comparison between Mary and Eve, lie tells us (see 
Catholic Layman for October, p. 109, note 1), on the 
authority of those who had heard it from John, the 
disciple of our Lord, that Jesus had used the following 
words: — " The days shall come in which there shall be 
Tines, each vine having ten thousand shoots, and each 
shoot ten thousand branches, and each branch ten 
thousand twigs, and each twig ten thousand clusters, 
and each cluster ten thousand grapes, and each grape 
•hall produce twenty-five measures of wine; and it 
Shall come to pass that when any of the saints shall take 
a cluster, another cluster shall exclaim, I am a better 

cluster, take me and with me bless God 

And when Judas the traitor asked the Lord, How shall 
such creatures be made ? the Lord replied, They shall see 
who shall come in those days." 

Notwithstanding this the Benedictine editor has no 
hesitation in rejecting the Millenarian doctrines, and 
pronounces them blemishes which the saint contracted 
from too great veneration for his seniors. We quite 



agree with the learned Roman Catholic in believing 
that our Lord never spoke the words here imputed to 
him, nor any like them ; and we infer that Irenseus 
lived too long after our Saviour's death to be implicitly 
believed as authority for ascribing any doctrine to our 
Lord or his apostles of which the Scriptures are silent. 
And it is thereby demonstrated, on the admission of 
Roman Catholics themselves, that we are not warranted 
in concluding that our Lord or his disciples taught a 
particular doctrine, because that doctrine was main- 
tained by a canonized saint of the church.not even though 
that Father should assert it to have been derived by 
direct tradition from one of the apostles, and not even 
though he should have written less than a hundred 
years after that apostle's death. We shall know, 
therefore, how far we are constrained to admit state- 
ments of writers who lived at a greater distance from 
the aposthjse and who do not pretend that the doctrines 
delivered '-Hfetiifdwived >n a direct line from them. 



RULE OF FAITH. 
(Continued from p. 111.) 
Following tl:» method which we proposed to ourselves 
in discussms the question of the Rule of Faith, we shall 
now proceed to the examination of the arguments by 
which Roman Catholics endeavour to prove that Scrip- 
ture, or the written Word, is insufficient without the 
aid of Tradition, or the unwritten Word. Before, how- 
ever, entering on this examination, we desire to make 
a few remarks supplementary to those which we have 
already put forward on the Protestant side of the 
question. 

That Holy Scripture comprises all things necessary to 
salvation, both as regards faith and morals, is proved 
by the very nature of its contents. With respect to the 
objects of our faith, it tells us of the existence and pro- 
vidential government of God ; of his justice, wisdom, 
holiness, and power. It tells us, that "God so loved 
the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that 
whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but may 
have life everlasting." — John iii. 16. In Scripture, and 
in it alone, is contained all that we know of the life and 
death of our Redeemer. There is not one saying or one 
niirac'o cf his, innumerable! as they were (John xxi. 
25), preserved in any authentic record but the canonical 
Books of the New Testament ('). The Scripture also 
reveals to us the existence of the third person of the 
blessed Trinity, and the part which he sustains in the 
great work of man's redemption. The duties which we 
owe to the Eternal Father, the Eternal Son, and the 
Eternal Spirit, respectively, are all clearly laid down in 
Scripture, and nowhere else. Again, with respect to 
morals, all the great principles by which man, in his 
individual and social capacity, should be guided, are 
simply aud clearly defined. There is, indeed, no formal 
and elaborate system of ethics; but there are — what, 

in a practical point of view, is infinitely more valuable 

living examples, principles exemplified in action, which 
appeal to the hearts and consciences of every single- 
minded reader of the Bible. 

When from the internal evidence afforded by Scrip- 
ture itself we turn to the testimony of the primitive 
fjhurch, the grand truth of the sufficiency of the written 
Word again meets us. We have already reviewed in 
detail some of the passages of the early Fathers bearing 
upon this point, and they might easily have been mul- 
tiplied. As the result of the whole investigation, it 
appears " that there never yet was any Catholic Father 
that did affirm in terms, or in full or equivalent sense, 
that the Scriptures are defective in the recording any- 
thing necessary to salvation, but that they all unani- 
mously taught the contrary" ( 8 ). The alleged instances 
contra vening this assertion we shall presently consider. 

i mother important decision of the early Catholic 
Chi, h, on this matter of the sufficiency of Scrip- 
ture, is preserved to us in the creeds, or summaries 
of faith, which were then drawn up, and were looked 
upon as embodying all the vital doctrines of Christi- 
anity. Now, in these creeds there is not a tittle con- 
tained which is not either directly, or by necessary 
consequence, derived from Scripture. Roman Catholics 
are fond of appealing to Jerome and Augustine as pa- 
trons of Tradition. Now, let us hear what these Fathers 
say respecting the Apostles' Creed, which is nothing 
more than an epitome of the New Testament doctrines. 
Jerome says — " The symbol of our faith and hope which 
was delivered by the Apostles, is not written in paper 
and ink, but in the, fleshly tables of our hearts. After 
the confession of the Trinity, and of the unity of the 
Church, Me whole, or every sacrament [i.e., mystery] 
of the Christian religion, is concluded with the resur- 
rection of the flesh" ('). Augustine says — "It [the 
Creed] is short in words, but great in sacraments. It 
confirms all men with the perfection of believing . . 

Whatsoever was prefigured in the 

patriarchs, declared in the Scriptures, foretold in 
the prophets — of God who was not begotten, of the 
Son of God who is the only begotten of God, or 

(1) The absurd stories told in some of the uncanonical 
gospels do not deserve a moment's serious attention. 

(2) Jer. Taylor, Dissuasive, p. 192, Oxf. ed. 1836. 

(3) Hieron. Epist. adPammach. t.iv. p. 323. 



of the Holy Spirit, *c.— the whole of thit the Crttd 
briefly contains in itself" (,*). Again, he says — " It ia 
the Rule of Faith—the short, the certain rule — which 
the Apostles comprehended in twelve sentences, that 
the believers might hold the Catholic unity, and con- 
vince the heretical pravity — the comprehension and per- 
fection of our faith" (»). The men who penned these 
passages could hardly have believed the imperfection 
and insufficiency of the written Word, of which the Creed 
is but a brief outline. The same may be said of Pope) 
Leo the Great, who thus writes — " The short and per- 
fect confession of the Catholic symbol is consigned in 
so many sentences of the twelve Apostles, is so furnished 
with celestial ammunition, that all the opinions of here- 
tics may be cut off with that sword alone" («). 

Again, the opinion of the ancients, as to the suffi- 
ciency of Holy Scripture, is expressed by the very term 
which they employed to designate the genuine worka 
of the inspired writers, soil, the canonical Scriptures. 
The word canon (cavvv) properly signifies a line or 
rule, and is sometimes applied to the tongue of a ba- 
lanee. , Thus, then, the canonical books forw the Divine 
rule, by which we ascertain whether we are walking in 
the straight path oTGod's commandments; the standard 
by which we conform ourselves to the Divine will; the 
test by which we examine ourselves whether we are in 

the faith ( 7 )- 

Nay, more, the very enemies and persecutors of pri- 
mitive Christianity bear testimony to the fact, that the 
Scriptures wltc :hen universally recognised as the 
sole depositor; nf its essential truths. It was against 
the doctrines c .itained in Scripture that the Pagan 
adversarit-s nf irit religion directed their assaults, con- 
ceiving that it' : i.ey overthrew them, no others remained 
in reserve. Tnc imiperor Diocletian thought that if he 
could succeed in destroying the 6oo/cs of the Christians, 
the victory of heathenism would be complete, believing 
justly that they were the ark in which the whole of 
the new religion was deposited. 

Lastly, so irresistible is the evidence in support of the 
position that Scripture contains all things necessary to 
salvation, that Bellarmine himself is forced to admit it, 
whilst he reserves for Traditioiijfce more recondite 
doctrines which were suited tty^mt more perfect — 
"They [the Apostles] preached not to the people all 
things, but those which were ntcmsary to them, or pro- 
fitable, but other things they delivered apart to the 
more perfect." — De Verb. Dei. iv. c. 11. ( 8 ) 

Moreover, against the Roman Catholic Rule of Faith 
—Scripture and Tradition, considered as co-ordinate 

(4) August. Serin. 131. de tempore (al. Semi. 242), t. v. 
app. 397. 

(5) August. Serm. 181. detemp. t. vi. app. 2T8. 

(ti) Leo. M. Ep. 13. (al. 27.) ad I'ululi. August. We are 
not concerned with the error I, as 't is now generally consi- 
dered) pervading all the above quotations — namely, that the 
Apostles themselves conij osed the creed called by their name. 
It may, however, furnish an additional illustration of the un- 
certainty of oral Tradition. 

(7 ) This rule, Ghryso-tom observe?, admits neither addition 
nor subtraction, otherwise its character as a rule is destroyed. 
6 Kaviiiv oire iroooStaiv ours urpaiotaiv £i\tTai, ivfi 
to xavuv ilvai airoWvcn. — Chiysost. Horn. xii. in 
Phil. iii. 

(8) This distinction refers to the famous Soman Catholic 
theory of the Discijilina Aicani — vi:--, that the Aposttesj.^a 
addition to the truths which they publicly preached and coat- 
mitted to writing, communicated to their successors a number 
of unwritten doctrines, which were to be kept secret from the 
uninitiated Jews and Gentiles, and from the catechumens of 
the Church. This theory, which is really borrowed from 
heathen philosophy (In which the coitmon, or exoteric doctrines, 
were distinguished from the mere recondite, or esoteric), was 
adopted by the Church of Rome in later times, in order to ac- 
count for the perplexing fact of the silence of ecclesiastical 
antiquity respecting the peculiar doctrines of her creed. These 
doctrines, we are told, were really held since the days of the 
Apostles ; but were kept secret, as hidden mysteries, not to be 
divulged to any but snch as were initiated and duly prepared to 
receive them. The great expounder of this celebrated theory 
was Schelstrate, librarian of the Vatican, whose work on the 
subject appeared in 1080. It is also worth observing, that a 
sect of ancient heretics (Valentinians) held a doctrine precisely 
similar to the Roman Catholic theory just described. They main- 
tained, as we learn from Irenseus (.c. Hter. Lib. i. c. 25), that 
"Jems in mystery spake to his Disciples and Aposti.s some 
things in secret and apart, and enjoined them to nansmit 
those things to them that were worthy." Andwc am turther, 
from Augustine (Tract. 97. in Johan. t. iii. 738 hat in sup- 
port of this doctrine the heretics quoted John >. '., the very 
text made use of, for the same purpose, by Bell me and all 
other Roman Catholic theologians. Tertullian li i. «ise notices 
(dePrscscr. Heeret. c. 25) the theory that the oostles kept 
back some of the truths revealed to them, and ii,a not impart 
them alike to all Christians. He condemns it in the most 
pointed manner, applies to it the name of madness (dementia), 
and regards it as a pure invention of the Gnostics, devised for 
the purpose of throwing an air of mysterious grandeur around 
their monstrous fictions, and supported by the grossest misre- 
presentations of Scripture. He informs us (1. c. cap. 23) that 
their scriptural proof was based on 1 Tim. vi. 20, the very pas- 
sage which the Rhemish translators employ to prove that " the 
whole doctrine of Christianity was given unto the holy bishops 
to keep, and not to laymen." These striking resemblances 
between modern Romanism and ancient Gnosticism are well 
deserving of the serious attention of every reflecting Roman 
Catholic.